Emma, by Jane Austen, first published December 1815
My rating: ★★✫✫✫ 2/5.
How can one review this book? I know I’m already in trouble by rating it like I did. I believe the world divides between Jane Austen fans and everybody else. I’m in the everybody else category.
There’s the value of the book and how it relates to me. The worth of the book is immense, with double “m” like Emma herself. I know the world of books as we know it won’t be the same without Jane Austen, and specially without Emma. She even employed a new technique called free indirect style (I read that in this article about how this book changed the face of fiction. And that article I found at the review of another reader of this book in the 19th century category for our Back to the Classics 2016 challenge.)
It’s not that I did not ‘like’ the book because I don’t like Emma. It’s not even that I don’t find the book worth of being read (because I do). It’s just that the book’s setting, the characters, the topics at discussion, precisely produce maybe what it was those people living at that time felt, “boredom, and a deeper socially ingrained oppressive social climate”. But as much as I was listening to the book and laughing, grinning, or shaking my head in disbelief of pages and pages discussing trivialities, and listening to strident remarks by the society gossips, I have to say that the book has stayed with me since I finished it.
At the end of the day, I am truly glad I met Emma and those around her. I keep going back to the novel, and seeing Jane Austen’s audacity and sharp judgment. There’s a fascination in her way of writing so peculiar to her that I’m sure we’d miss it, and maybe it is so we, or I, take it so much for granted. Such is the power of her books, that they have rendered themselves to multiple screen interpretations. I have not seen any but maybe sometime I will. Jane Austen is a well deserved phenomena, not just in the book’s world, but in the visual world, in our collective mind (whatever that is, I’m just randomly using those words to say she has shaped and explained Victorian England (specially the countryside) as we know it, and I’m sure we will keep going back and forth). Actually, another strong motive I had to read this book was that in our bookclub, we wanted to read Emma, a Modern Retelling, and I’m extremely curious about how that modern retelling is written. The author, Alexander McCall Smith, is the writer of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: A No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Novel. I have always seen those books at book sales and never got them (I thought they were not so good, but I’m having second thoughts. Have you read any of those?) The friends who have at my book club seriously like them.
I think I’m going to change my rating. And still my rating it’s my personal rating, so don’t think much about it. If you are a Jane Austen’s fan, my sincere apologies for this irreverent review. One Jane Austen a year, will keep the literary doctor away, that’s for sure. I’m not sure if all her fans started by being blown away by her books since book one (for me, Pride and Prejudice was that book one), or if they made it book by book just to be part of that club, just to be able to compare and contrast, rate their favorite and less favorite of her books, discuss which is their favorite(s) character(s), take tests that tell us which Jane Austen woman we are, or man character we like, etc. This is kind of crazy. I’m thinking I have to read Mansfield Park. Convince me! OK, OK, I will!
My rating: ★★★✫✫ 3/5.